In a big house in China, a long time ago, there lived an enormous family. The patriarch had taken many wives and had many children, who married and had their own children. One of those grandchildren was Ruby, a little girl so called because she loved red, the Chinese color of celebration, and wore it every day. Ruby’s grandfather hired a teacher for the many grandchildren, and while it was unusual for the time, he allowed both the boys and the girls to attend lessons. Ruby loved school, and worked hard every day to master her subjects (harder even than the boys, because she had to spend her free time learning cooking and homemaking as well). One day, Ruby writes a poem for school, one that expresses her sadness at being born a girl. Her grandfather is concerned: why does Ruby think that the boys of the home are treated better? Will Ruby have the courage to speak her mind, and tell her grandfather of the opportunities she longs for?
This was a fantastic story, made all the more moving because it’s true. Ruby is a wonderful role model for little ones: she tells her grandfather of the special treatment the boys get, and expresses a desire to attend university. Moved by her passion, her grandfather secures her entrance to a school, both he and Ruby bucking the gender limitations of the time. It’s a triumphant ending, and teaches an important lesson: both men and women must fight for gender equality. The illustrations are beautiful, and along with the text offer a glimpse into the fascinating history of a culture. The length is good, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A moving tribute to a courageous young woman ahead of her time, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!